TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 7th February 2017
“The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening-
A brown poppy head, The stalk of a lily,
And still cannot go.
The second sorrow
Is the empty feet
Of a pheasant who hangs from a hook with his brothers.
The woodland of gold Is folded in feathers With its head in a bag.
And the third sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the sun who has gathered the birds and who gathers
The minutes of evening,
The golden and holy Ground of the picture.
The fourth sorrow
Is the pond gone black
Ruined and sunken the city of water-
The beetle’s palace,
The catacombs Of the dragonfly.
And the fifth sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the woodland that quietly breaks up its camp.
One day it’s gone.
It has only left litter- Firewood, tentpoles.
And the sixth sorrow
Is the fox’s sorrow
The joy of the huntsman, the joy of the hounds,
The hooves that pound
Till earth closes her ear To the fox’s prayer.
And the seventh sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the face with its wrinkles that looks through the window
As the year packs up
Like a tatty fairground
That came for the children.”
Ted Hughes – poet laureate– 1930-1998
It was quite a mixed first weekend for 6 Nations rugby. Scotland were magnificent. They have flattered to deceive for so long; so it was especially gratifying to see all the hard work under Vern Cotter and Gregor Townsend deserving of their just rewards. Through thick and thin, as patron of Scottish Rugby, The Princess Royal hasn’t missed a home game at Murrayfield for years. What a trooper she is and a wonderful ambassador for the Royal Family!
The more I see of the English coach Eddie Jones, the more I like him! What a leader! What a talisman. Though England won ugly against France one always felt that England had been adequately drilled to find that little bit at the business end of the match – but what an awful game!
Perhaps David Beckham had been unfairly treated in having his email hacked. However he did not come out of this tawdry affair as the paragon of virtue. Surely he must know that when you have that high profile as a celebrity, nothing is safe or hallowed and you have no friends. So to have indicated your disappointment at not receiving a gong was naive in the extreme. Discretion is always the better part of valour! It will be interesting to see if he loses any sponsors such as J Sainsbury.
It looks as though the French General Election in April may see an unexpected resident at the Elysee Palace in the form of Marine Le Pen. The election campaign has been thrown in to confusion by Francois Fillon admitting he has paid members of his family and refusing to withdraw as a candidate. Emanuel Macron – the ex-banker with the matinee idol good looks is giving a very good account of himself. However it looks as though the country will be split in to disarray, with Mme Le Pen possibly coming in her spring coat, threatening to be spring-healed to take the election by storm! It might be folly to rule that possibility out, despite no press support and no money for her campaign from the banking fraternity. “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn!” Certainly the European bond markets are feeling the strain as the spread between French bonds and the Bund widens. Normally these two countries’ bond prices are joined at the hip, due to their perceived overall strength within the EU community. The EU is not going to be without its EU electoral travails this year. A degree of turmoil is likely to prevail. Many expect the Euro to also in the weeks to come under pressure – today €/$1.0689. European equities have started to look rather unappetising as uncertainty gathers momentum.
So, not surprisingly there was a slight flight to quality yesterday, with gold being the main beneficiary – $1235 an ounce – whilst so much political uncertainty prevails either side of the Atlantic. In London the FTSE 100 closed down 16 points at 7172. It was a lack lustre performance with little to capture the imagination apart from Randgold Resources upbeat numbers taking the share price up by 4%. House builders surrendered a bit of ground, but all in all it was a waste of space. On the Street of Dreams it was another nebulous session with the banking sector giving some of Friday’s gains back. Hasbro, the toy maker, posted good results with sales up 11% with great sales of Disney Princess and Frozen – shares rallied by 14%! All in all it was a sepulchral session with the DOW -0.09%, S&P -0.21% and NASDAQ -0.06%.
Retail sales slipped in January as shoppers turn cautious about spending, industry figures show. Like-for-like sales were down 0.6% on the same month last year, the first decline since August, according to data from the British Retail Consortium. The BRC said that looking across the last three months; retailers saw the slowest growth over the key festive period since 2009. That was driven by slowing sales growth in the non-food sector. The report pointed to the squeeze facing retailers after the slump in the pound.
This morning BP posted slightly disappointing numbers. It is as well to remember that a loss of $6.5 billion was posted last year so many will take a profit of $115 million this year. EPS at 2.1p was light against expectations of 2.9p. Investment in the last period was down to $300 million; with a declining level of exploration spend. The dividend was 10p. With Deep Water Horizon litigation of $40 billion now all but behind BP, perhaps CEO Bob Dudley and his team can look for better times. Shares are up 35% in the last year, though 2.8% has been shed this morning. I still attach great credence and importance to Dudley’s relationship with Rosneft (20% stake) and the access to the Kremlin that goes with it!
In Asia markets were slightly below the Plimsoll line thanks in the main to a stronger Yen – $/Y111.80. The FTSE at 8.52am is up 32 points at 7200 after a very quiet start with defensive stocks doing well – GSK, Astra, Reckitt, Unilever etc.
UK companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – BP, First Group, Bellway, GW Pharma, Wednesday – Rio Tinto, Tullow Oil, Dunelm, Redrow, Hargreaves Lansdown, Glaxo Smithkline, Severn Trent, Thursday – Smith & Nephew, Ashmore, Henderson, Thos Cook, Pennon, Grainger, Enterprise Inns, Manchester United, Dairy Crest, Enterprise Inns, DFS, Friday – Electrocomponents, Aon, Greene King
US companies posting interim results – Tuesday – Archer Daniels Midland, Omnicom, Walt Disney, Wednesday – Time Warner, Allergan, Goodyear, Brinks, Thursday – BGC Partners, Kellogg, Twitter, KKR, Viacom, Yum Brands!, Coca-Cola, Zynga
Economic data posted this week – Tuesday – Halifax House Prices, US Trade Balance, Wednesday – US Federal Budget Balance, NIESR UK GDP estimate, Thursday – US initial Jobless Claims, US FOMC, Friday – RICS Housing data, UK Manufacturing, UK industrial Production, UK Goods Trade Balance
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